July 13, 2018

WASHINGTON — Microsoft today called for federal action and committed to company steps to address the civil rights threats of face recognition technology. This comes after the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as community groups, employees, and consumers, raised grave concerns about face recognition technology, particularly in the hands of government.

Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, issued the following statement in response:

“Microsoft is absolutely right that face recognition use by law enforcement must be fully analyzed and debated. Congress should take immediate action to put the brakes on this technology with a moratorium on its use by government, given that it has not been fully debated and its use has never been explicitly authorized. And companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and others should be heeding the calls from the public, employees, and shareholders to stop selling face surveillance technology to governments.”

In May, the ACLU of California released emails revealing how Amazon has been selling its face recognition technology to law enforcement. In June, the ACLU of Washington delivered to Amazon over 150,000 petition signatures, a coalition letter signed by nearly 70 organizations representing communities nationwide, and a letter from Amazon shareholders demanding the company stop providing face surveillance technology to governments. Days later, Amazon employees sent a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos calling on him to stop selling the technology to law enforcement.

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